Thursday, October 29, 2015

In and out of Noumea

The formalities of coming into a new country are completed – and in Noumea, New Caledonia it is quite an easy process. We went to Port Moselle marina on Monday and though we had to wait for a slip for several hours, we made our way into our slot with our yellow flag flying. Then Michael completed the many forms that were sent to customs by the marina office. Bio-security came aboard very quickly and it was Tatiana, the same woman we had last year. She was very efficient and took the last of our fresh goods. We had done a good job of not having any meat aboard so we didn't lose much. By the time we were at the marina, immigration was closed for the day. After a few hours of waiting, we took our yellow flag down – as is their system. That evening we had a very enjoyable time with friends Angelika and Harald – enjoying some champagne, wine and pizza with lots of laughs.

Also on Monday afternoon, Michael tried to sort the overheating/water leak engine issue. We motored for ten hours into New Caledonia – no water needed. We motored six hours up from Prony towards Noumea and needed to add water every half hour! So the problem was still unsolved. We got the name of a service nearby the marina from a few folks including our friend Eric of "Sirena of Aore." The guy asked if he could come down and take a quick look – he did, and within five minutes found the problem! It was the hose that ran to the water heater. Michael had checked it multiple times at the connections – but it was the center of the hose (under floor on the way back to the aft cabin) that was mushy. So we ordered new hose from the guy hoping it would be the end of the problem.

On Tuesday, after a breakfast of freshly bought French croissants and pan de chocolat, we headed for immigration to complete the check in process. We had written an article for Ocean Navigator's annual "Ocean Voyager" 2015 edition on the clearing in process. In that piece they used one of Michael's photos of the immigration office in New Caledonia with Rankin from "Gypsea Heart" clearing out. We brought a copy of the article and photo to the office with us – and the officer shown in the picture was the man on duty to check us in. So Michael gave him the piece. Then, another officer (a superior officer it seemed) came in the office and was shown the piece by "our" guy. Then it got a bit weird...the new guy asked who gave permission for the photo. Michael said the guy in the photo gave the permission than in French a conversation took place that didn't sound too friendly. Uh oh! But in the end, it all was good once the senior officer looked at the piece more carefully and saw other country officials in it and that piece was a positive and informative description of the proper way to clear into countries. So it all ended well – but it was a bit scary for a moment. New Caledonia after all, was a place for prisoners for many a year!

After the clear in was completed and we think we may have solved the engine problem, we did some provisioning. New Caledonia is definitely not a cheap place – except for the wine! But it is still cheaper to eat aboard than dining out. We have enjoyed meeting some new people here as well and catching up with some old acquaintances. The docks are always fun places to gather.

On Thursday though, we were ready to move out of the marina and head for some of the lovely anchorages this country has to offer. Plus we wanted to test out the engine to see if by-passing the water heater hose would solve the problem. So we motored for an hour and no water was needed. We sailed the next five hours down to the Baie de Prony – having a great sail (thanks also to the current on our favor). We then motored another hour upon arrival and no water needed. So we hope that this problem is behind us...and the cost was only $180 to find it and solve it! We were sure it would cost closer to $1000 so we were celebratory. Michael did all the work himself once Laurent found the problem. The cost was only the hose.

Now we are in Prony and back in the corner near the river, warm springs and waterfalls. We will do a fair amount of walking around the many trails here. We'll head back towards Noumea again when we are getting closer to departing the country in a few weeks or so. For now, we'll enjoy cruising around New Cal!

We probably won't get any trick or treaters here – but you never know! Happy Halloween everyone.
At 10/29/2015 8:02 PM (utc) S/V Astarte was located at 22°18.15'S 166°51.41'E

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